Testimony Enters 3rd Day In SoBe Rape, Murder Re-Trial
South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Testimony entered its third day in the re-trial of an Orlando area man accused of a South Beach kidnapping, rape and murder a decade ago.
Joel Lebron, 33, is one of five men accused in the kidnapping 18-year old Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend Nelson Portobanco in 2002 off a South Beach street. The men then reportedly gang raped Angel before killing her execution style.
Lebron’s first trial ended in a mistrial two weeks ago when the lead detective of the investigation, Larry Marrero, misspoke on the stand and said a co-defendant has already been convicted. It’s a fact that jurors were not supposed to know so the judge said he was forced to declare a mistrial.
Early in the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, the state and defense attorneys argued over whether upcoming testimony from a police officer should be heard by the jury. The officer was to testify when he asked Lebron how it felt to kill after he was read his Miranda Rights he reportedly replied “It made me feel like a king.”
The judge ruled that the jury would not hear that testimony.
The jury did hear from Medical Examiner Christopher Wilson who described the wounds inflicted on Angel’s body in detail.
Prosecutors also asked the court if they would be able to show video of the scene where Angel was killed which had not been shown in the previous trial. A ruling on that was not immediately issued.
Miami Beach Crime Scene supervisor Juan Pedroso and Kristie Shaw, a senior crime lab analyst for the toxicology section for FDLE, also testified.
Prosecutors said Lebron and the four other men came down from Orlando and abducted the couple after they had taken a midnight stroll on the beach.
“They decided they didn’t have enough money to get in the club, and would commit a robbery together, they were all in on it,” Marrero testified on Monday.
Marrero said during questioning Lebron admitted that he ordered Angel and Portobanco into the king cab truck at gunpoint. They then reportedly used the couple’s credit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Prosecutors said the men gang-raped Ana Maria as the truck drove north on I-95. At one point, Lebron and a co-defendant dragged Portobanco from the truck, stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat and left him to die on the side of I-95 in Broward County.
Despite his wounds, Portobanco survived.
Prosecutors say Lebron eventually shot and killed Angel off I-95 in Palm Beach County as the young woman begged for her life.
According to Marrero, Lebron allegedly admitted to taking Angel from the truck and “ordering her down to her knees.”
Twice, Lebron allegedly pulled the trigger of a gun placed to the girl’s head and it failed to fire.
“He said that Ana heard the click and began to beg for her life,” said Marrero.
A third pull of the trigger ended Angel’s life. Her body was found two days later.
Charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery and other felonies, Lebron is facing the death penalty if convicted.